And in the case of children, playing. “Levitt’s photographs of Harlem and the Lower East Side, primarily from the late 1930s through mid-1940s, were among the first to expose the inner lives of children, worlds that had only recently surfaced in American art through the spread of psychoanalysis and surrealism,” wrote Richard B. Woodward in the Wall Street Journal in 2009, shortly after her death.
In later decades, Levitt worked in color, creating perceptive and tender portraits of ordinary people against the backdrop of a city in decline.
Publicity shy and notorious for rarely giving interviews, she lived alone in a walkup near Union Square for almost 50 years, until she died at age 95.
Her street-theater photos of New York caught off guard have been collected in many books, including the magical Slide Show, published in 2005.
Tags: famous New York photographers, Helen Levitt, kids playing in street, New York 1950s, New York City kids, New York in the 1960s, New York street, New York street photography, photos of New York City 1940s, Slide Show Helen Levitt